Thursday, July 27, 2006

World Soccer Rank 1 as Germany 2006

Italy players pose with the World Cup trophy as they celebrate their victory over France in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, 9 July 2006. The Italians won the game 5-3 in the penalty shoot-out.

After months of minor changes during which order was largely maintained in the top 10, the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking witnessed some veritably seismic shifts, with a couple of key factors forcing the movement.

The first of these was the most significant change in the ranking's calculation in its 13-year history. A new system came into operation this month and, instead of taking into account the past eight years' results, only the last four now have a bearing on teams' positions within the ranking table.

As for the other means by which the ranking was traditionally decided (result, importance of match, strength of opponents, regional strength, number of matches considered), these have been tested, re-analysed and, in some cases, completely revised. Indeed, two of the factors previously used - goals scored and home advantage - have been removed from the reckoning process altogether.

By anyone's standards, this represents a major overhaul of the entire system, and it is one that is also geared towards makes the process of assessing fully 207 member associations a little easier to understand. "We are aware that it is difficult to meet everybody's expectations," acknowledged FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, "but are confident that the new system will provide an accurate measure of the strength of each of our member associations."

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